An appreciation of Malcolm Torry

The Reverend Dr Malcolm Torry joined the Basic Income Research Group (BIRG) in 1985. At that time. he was a young vicar working in south-east London, married with a young family. His first writing on the subject of BI, and noted by BIRG, was his pamphlet, A Loaf of the Parish Bread.

He soon revealed his exceptional skills as Secretary during the 6 years 1987 to 1993. This period included registering BIRG as a charity, and the subsequent change of name in 1992 to the Citizen’s Income Trust to meet the requirement of a generous benefactor, who wanted CIT to ride on the crest of a wave of a debate about citizenship at that time – a debate which has long since subsided.

The funding supported three consecutive part-time directors until 2001, when three things happened: the generous funding was not renewed, the then Director resigned and our Chair, Evelyn McEwen, died. The trustees had the choice of laying down CIT, trying to find new funding or continuing with volunteer labour and small donations. We decided on the latter course, with Malcolm volunteering to take over as Director and Annie Miller as Chair.

He was able to contribute a half day each week towards CIT, with the kind permission of the Bishop of Woolwich, until he took early retirement in 2013 – after which he was able to contribute even more of his time. We trustees were very fortunate to have been able to delegate so many of our responsibilities and tasks to Malcolm as Director, He contributed his enviable skills for the benefit of CIT and the BI movement as a whole. These included his efficient organisational skills, preparing Agendas, other papers and draft Minutes for the Chair to check over, drafting the Annual Reports, and the Annual Accounts until our current Treasurer took over.

He organised the setting up and registering of a new constitution early in 2017, to take advantage of the new charitable status of Charitable Incorporated Organisation. He organised some major conferences for CIT, notably on 6 June 2014 at the British Library, and on 20 February 2018 at the London School of Economics, as part of its week-long celebration of the seventieth anniversary of the setting up of the UK Social Security system.

Malcolm also edited the CI Newsletter from issue 2 of 2001 until the second issue of 2020. Here he revealed another exceptional gift – not only of speed reading, but the power of retention, which he used for the countless books that he reviewed. When he could not persuade people to write articles for the CI Newsletter, he wrote them himself.

He set up the website and learned extra computing skills to aid him in this. He also initiated specific projects, such as a survey of MPs’ attitudes to CBI, and a template for the legislation to implement a CBI scheme, based on that which introduced Universal Credit. He was able to draw on his experience of working in a benefit office as a young man, before taking up his religious orders.

His hobby appears to have been collecting degrees, of which he has obtained several, on religion, social policy and economics. In addition to his responsibilities on behalf of CIT, Malcolm was generous in offering his own research for publication in the CI Newsletter. This included the CBI scheme that he explored over the years on the EUROMOD microsimulation model, developed by the Institute for Economic and Social Research at the University of Essex, and keeping CIN readers updated with his new results as the scheme unfolded.

He has also been a prolific author on both administration in religious organisations and about CBI. In addition, his reading and retention abilities made him admirably suited to edit the works of multiple authors, which led to the publication of the Palgrave International Handbook of Basic Income in 2019. He has also recently volunteered to undertake the writing of a book on the history of basic income, due for publication in 2022, in which these abilities will also come to the fore.

We wish Malcolm and his wife, Rebecca, a fulfilling and productive retirement post CBIT.

Recent CBI Bibliography

2013 Money for Everyone: Why We Need a Citizen’s Income, Bristol: Policy Press.
2015 101 Reasons for a Citizen’s Income: Arguments for giving everyone some money,Bristol: Policy Press.
2016 The Feasibility of Citizen’s Income, Palgrave Macmillan.
2016 Citizen’s Basic Income: A Christian Social Policy, London: Darton, Longman and Todd.
2018 Why we need a Citizen’s Basic Income: The desirability, feasibility and implementation of an unconditional income, Bristol: Policy Press.
2019 Static microsimulation research on Citizen’s Basic Income for the UK: a personal summary and further reflections, Euromod Working Paper EM 13/19,Colchester: Institute for Social and Economic Research.
2019 (Ed.) Palgrave International Handbook of Basic Income, Palgrave Macmillan.
2020 A Modern Guide to Citizen’s Basic Income: A Multidisciplinary Approach, Edward Elgar.